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"Aids to Scoutmastership" B-P

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We have had a lot of discussion about the behavior of certain scouts. I mentioned in another thread about the advice of Baden-Powell when he used a quote from an article by a Mr. Casson in Teacher's World Magazine in his book "Aids to Scoutmastership, a guidebook for Scoutmasters on the theory of Scout Training. I wonder if we have created a lot of these problem boys by trying to put them all in the same mold. When my son was in Elementary school, I visited for lunch quite often. The kids had to be quiet in class, on the way to the lunchroom, in the lunchroom, and even in the playground after lunch. I wondered when these boys get to learn social skills when they are being suppressed all the time. According to Mr. Casson, we may be keeping natural leaders from developing. You read the quote and think about it for a while. Let me know what you think.

 

Mr. Casson, writing in the magazine Teachers' World, thus

describes that complicated work of Nature the boy:-

"Judging from my own experience, I would say that

boys have a world of their own-a world that they make for them-

selves; and neither the teacher nor the lessons are admitted to

this world. A boy's world has its own events and standards and

code and gossip and public opinion.

"In spite of teachers and parents, boys remain loyal to

their own world. They obey their own code, although it is quite

a different code to the one that is taught to them at home and in

the schoolroom. They gladly suffer martyrdom at the hands of

uncomprehending adults, rather than be false to their own code.

"The code of the teacher, for instance, is in favour of

silence and safety and decorum. The code of the boys is diamet-

rically opposite. It is in favour of noise and risk and excite-

ment.

"Fun, fighting, and feeding! These are the three indis-

pensable elements of the boy's world. These are basic. They are

what boys are in earnest about; and they are not associated with

teachers nor schoolbooks.

"According to public opinion in Boydom, to sit for four

hours a day at a desk indoors is a wretched waste of time and

daylight. Did anyone ever know a boy-a normal healthy boy, who

begged his father to buy him a desk? Or did anyone ever know a

boy, who was running about outdoors, go and plead with his mother

to be allowed to sit down in the drawing room?

"Certainly not. A boy is not a desk animal. He is not a

sitting-down animal. Neither is he a pacifist nor a believer in

safety first,' nor a book-worm, nor a philosopher.

"He is a boy-God bless him-full to the brim of fun and

fight and hunger and daring mischief and noise and observation

and excitement. If he is not, he is abnormal.

"Let the battle go on between the code of the teachers

and the code of the boys. The boys will win in the future as

they have in the past. A few will surrender and win the scholar-

ships, but the vast majority will persist in rebellion and grow

up to be the ablest and noblest men in the nation.

"Is it not true, as a matter of history, that Edison, the

inventor of a thousand patents, was sent home by his school

teacher with a note saying he was 'too stupid to be taught'?

"Is it not true that both Newton and Darwin, founders of

the scientific method, were both regarded as blockheads by their

school teachers?

"Are there not hundreds of such instances, in which the

duffer of the classroom became useful and eminent in later life?

And doesn't this prove that our present methods fail in develop-

ing the aptitudes of boys?

"Is it not possible to treat boys as boys? Can we not

requirements of the boy's world? Can we not interpret our adult

wisdom into the language of boyhood?

"Is not the boy right, after all, in maintaining his own

code of justice and achievement and adventure?

"Is he not putting action before learning, as he ought to

do? Is he not really an amazing little worker, doing things on

his own, for lack of intelligent leadership?

"Would it not be vastly more to the point if the teachers

were, for a time, to become the students and to study the marvel-

ous boy-life which they are at present trying vainly to curb and

repress?

"Why push against the stream, when the stream, after all,

is running in the right direction?

"Is it not time for us to adapt our futile methods and to

bring them into harmony with the facts? Why should we persist in

saying dolefully, 'boys will be boys,' instead of rejoicing in

the marvelous energy and courage and initiative of boyhood? And

what task can be nobler and more congenial to a true teacher than

to guide the wild forces of boy nature cheerily along into paths

of social service?"

 

Doug

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Doug I agree with the thrust. That is why I am a trained and registered teacher but refuse to teach in classrooms (until hit by poverty) and pursue the education of young people as an outdoor ed instructor. I also think that the highest form of outdoor ed is Scouting (read Patrol method, promise and law, award scheme, mixing ages in play).

 

Schools have walls and timetables - essential for mass education but not really the best for each individual. The teachers are great but the system will never do what a good SM can.

 

It seems Doug that you would appreciatte the books I studied in my MA - look in the American camping assoc bookshop, Experiential Education Assoc journal and check out Howard Gardners Theories of Multiple Intelligences. There are a bunch of books on being men and being women that go in the same direction - probably in your local although in my bookshop they are mostly Australian authors.

 

I belive that Casson was writing figuratively though - maybe given Victorian private schooling he was not! Learning to control agression and to deal with it without hurting people is vital training for all people.

 

Last week I watched over elementary boys play fighting and stepped in to enforce limits and to explain that you can't hurt people deliberately - you might get knocked around so accept that when playing rough accidents can happen. The men at school didn't look twice and the women tended to smile and stay away. The teachers were well aware of the need to learn about controlled aggression. A few of these boys were ADD/ADHD types. They understood that they had to be more careful with boys smaller than themselves. I was amazed by the "worst" boy's understanding of the code.

 

Allowing this sort of stuff without older people watching out for and teaching the rules is dangerous and, as OGE points out, does nobody any good. Scouting provides this older supervision without using adults - PL's and SPL's and they are supervised by ASM's and SM's. If everyone is doing their job all is well. If we don't watch for the ugly side we don't deserve to wear the uniform.

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I also agree with the thrust. I homeschool my son, highschool age, mostly because he is an extreme example of a boy whose time is wasted behind a desk. The other big issue is that he requires more socialization practice than is available in schools. Yes, you read that right. I took him OUT of school to work on his social skills. He had been in a Spec Ed class whose purpose was ostensibly to TEACH him social skills and study skills, and all it accomplished was to train him to produce worksheets for candy treats. If my terrier could hold a pencil, I could train him the same way with doggie biscuits (and his handwriting would probably be better...)

 

There was nothing in high school available to teach him how to be empathetic toward others, to read other's body language, to help him understand how to express his opinions without being considered smart-alecky or know-it-all, or to learn how to influence others without bribery or coercion. He needs to know those things, far more than any single subject he could learn. He reads well and so can find out anything he wants to know from the library or internet or both. But he can't use any of that knowledge in a productive way if he can't work with people.

 

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Due to some problems my son has had in elementary school about behavior, the school officials wanted him in special ed all day for 6th grade. I spent 1/2 day arguing with these people that it was not the right place for him. As Sagerscout says, it often teaches the kids how to do worksheets for treats. I know some kids benefit from being in one classroom all day, but everyone in my son's life outside of school said "NO!!!". That's just hiding him away from the problems. How will he every solve them? He MUST learn how to cope in this world.

 

A sheet my son filled out the first day of school said his favorite part of school was "lunch"! That has very little to do with eating because he doesn't eat much at lunch. It is about socializing.

 

I've heard of some schools who turn off the lights at lunch so the kids will be quieter!

 

My son's friend, who I have mentioned before, NEVER goes outside. My son has been trying all day today to get the kid to go with us to the bike shop or to come over and play. What did the other kid want to do? Stay at home and watch a movie on video that he has seen many times, then play his video games by himself. His mother only whines "he never goes outside". Maybe because all he sees mom do is lay on the couch watching TV, talking on the phone and reading romance novels?????

 

As a Webelos leader I had a scout that was a son of a elementary school teacher. She jumped all over me in a meeting because the boys were talking and not sitting down while I tried to talk to the parents for a moment. She expected them to behave like they should in school. I looked at her and said "These boys have been in school ALL DAY. I do not expect them to sit perfectly still in their chairs." When her son turned 11 he dropped out of Scouts.

 

If my son learned nothing else during summer camp, I know he improved his social skills. The school officials didn't believe me the day I got his class schedule changed. After 2 weeks he is proving me right about having him in regular classes. It is a challenge but much better than being spoon fed his work.

 

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Ozemu

Thanks for the info. I went to the American Camping Assoc. website to look at the books offered. This one sounded interesting. "Boundaries with Kids" by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Have you read it?

It just seems to me in our school system, that the kids aren't allowed to build their social skills and this leads to frustration of not knowing how to express themselves in a civil manner. I'm not in any way endorsing fighting, but I think that kids would know better how to react in certain situations by the interactions they have had to that point. Combine this lack of social training with the violence that they see on TV, Video Games, News and you can get a Colombine type of event. You are educated in this field, but am I on the right track or totally derailed?

Doug

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Doug, I'm on the spot now aren't I? I have not read Boundaries with kids.

 

My wife works with 'behavioural' kids at schools and would agree with Sager and Sctmom in many cases - she complains about this too but unless we are going to homeschool etc there is little to be done regards schooling. After all the teacher is to teach a class - individulas with problems that detract from the education of the class will be relegated to the scrap heap if they demand too much time. The good of the majority and all that.

 

I think that you are correct in that past experience has a significant impact on anyones ability to deal with confrontations. However you are talking specifically about schools. There are two things that interact but are spearate here I think.

 

Schools have rules and requirments that are based on achieving in an academic curriculum. They are not intended to educate about interpersonal or intrapersonal skills. That is the role of parents.

 

Schools have a playground culture (and ofetn the culture is all pervasive and influences all peer interaction) that has nothing much to do with teachers. Kids learn from kids and it is passed down as a tradition of sorts. These traditions / cultures are often less than good but that depends on the schools history.

 

I see lots of schools in our programs. The teachers are confronted by the student culture while with us. Usually they already knew what is going on. Being the enemy of kids fun they have little real influence. What is needed if a schools is to change its playground culture is deliberate removal of the dominant and nasty traits.

 

What I am talking about is bullying and the victims ability to deal with that. This is not an area I am expert at so here is a reference:

 

"Bullying in schools and what to do about it" Ken Rigby , The australian Council for educational Research Ltd, Melbourne, 1997

 

Obviously not a book that is in every library however its bibliography includes:

 

Besag, V.E. (1989) "Bullies and victims in schools." Bristol, PA: Open University PRess

 

and a bunch of English books.

 

What I found interesting when reading this stuff was that the victim is often as much to 'blame' as the bully. A few simp0le preventative measures or effective method of dealing with bullying (etc) would protect the victim. The bully also needs much work but your concern seems to be with potential victims.

 

The best training for useful interaction is, in my mind, Scouting when done well. A USA book I recommend to all outdoor leaders is:

J. Graham, 1997, "Outdoor Leadership", The Mountaineers, Seattle ISBN 0-89886-502-6. The chapter 'dealing with conflict' is excellant and if kids can understand the basics they will have a much better life.

 

Doug, I am not an expert here. My MA was in Outdoor Education and our primary focus is on dealing with self esteem, interaction, taking responsibility etc. To do this we introduce stress in activities and when the kids start to get upset with eachother we examine whether that is useful and what other options both remedial and preventative might be used. Good SM's do this.

 

Also it may be a male thing that the blows should be softened but that kids should not be protected from all the hard knocks of life. A hard knock will get their attention after all. However not showing a kid how to deal with these hard knocks is cruel.

 

Has this helped?

 

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Ozemu

Thamks for all the info. You seem to have a wealth of it. Outdoor Education must be a great job, like scouting all the time. I agree that scouting done well is the best training for useful interaction. I will look up the book "Outdoor Leadership" by Graham. I went to your website and read about "Aussie" and his US tour. How did you determine where he goes? Where in North Carolina will he be? Just curious.

Doug

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What I do for a small living is a bit like scouting but without a promise / oath, law, not much scout led initiative and no ideal of service to the community. So it seems a bit hollow.

 

Aussie is a girl! and will be in Elizabeth City in late Oct and Nov. I set up the trip over the christmas period solely by research on the net. The Giurl Scouts are pretty experienced t this stuff and I got some host response through Scouter.com and also through a tedious web search and GS bulletin boards. The Coast Guard spouses provided several hosts when an existing host advertised there.

 

Going away for a week tomorrow. See you later.

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"The other big issue is that he requires more socialization practice than is available in schools. Yes, you read that right. I took him OUT of school to work on his social skills."

 

I have never heard of this before. School is a place of learning and a place where kids come in contact with all types of personalities. By pulling them out of this environment only hampers them in being able to deal with these types of people. Remember, this is only my opinion.

 

I have two deaf kids. Well, my son is 21 & daughter is 17. Big kids. My son was full mainstreamed in high school only because we fought for it & didn't give up until he was. This is our right a parents. He earned his Eagle in 1998 & graduated with honors in 2001! He just finished his 1st year at RIT & was on the dean's list the entire year. Our daughter was fully mainstreamed in 6th grade & that was also a fight! She has been on the honor role ever since she started middle school! She is also on the basketball team & starts on JV and gets a lot of playing time on varsity!

 

If we would have pulled our kids out of regular school none of this would have ever happened. My wife & I fought tooth & nail to get them the best education we could. Did it payoff? Yes it did. I don't feel pulling kids out of situations just because they don't like them is good for the kid. I think we need to remember that when they grow up & go out into the "real world" they will encounter many different things they have never seen before and we as parents won't be their to bail them out. They need to learn how to handle things & make decisions on their own.

 

I am not saying home schooling is bad.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Ed, You are correct that you have rights as parents to decide what is best for YOUR child. I also have to fight this year to get my child in any mainstream classes. I think it is great the special ed classes exist but that is not the best place for MY child.

 

Schools are not set up to teach social skills. They are set up for teaching academics in one way and one way only. The teachers don't have the time and/or resources to do anything different. They don't have the options that maybe a one room school house did. Children must conform or they get in trouble. There is no time in my son's school day for him to interact with his peers.

 

Last week I had a discussion with some other adults in the troop that my son was complaining about some name calling that was happening in the troop. Nothing very severe, yet my son wanted to use it an excuse to quit. One parent pointed out that my son didn't know how to "pick back". He's an only child. Also, you don't "pick back" at school. He's not used to being in the situation Scouting puts him in --- a situation where he has to deal with different personalities on his own. That's the kind of social skills I'm talking about.

 

Also, school doesn't give the kids a chance to work things out on their own. They are trained to go tell an adult. I believe this is one reason the transition to Boy Scouting is tough for some boys. They can't imagine having to figure out a problem by themselves. Timmy won't do his fair share of clean up -- Let's tell an adult. Uh-oh, in Scouting they want US to handle it! WHOA! WE can't handle it, we are kids, the teachers have made that perfectly clear to us that we can't be trusted to go to the bathroom and back.

 

One other comment about kids and schools. When I was in college, I found it amazing how some people who excelled in high school could not make it in college when they were given responsibility. Also, some of the kids who struggled in high school then found the freedom and responsibility of college was just what they needed.

 

 

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